Vincent D’Onofrio got off to a slow start, spending years bouncing between small roles on low budget movies, and work in theatre. However, his third credited film role, in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, would become one of his most iconic, and help position D’Onofrio for a long career as an actor.
Kubrick divided Full Metal Jacket, a film which many consider one of the best war movies ever made, into two distinct parts. The first half of the film follows Private Joker (Matthew Modine) through boot camp, while the second section of the film show Joker and his unit travel through Vietnam. While both halves feature memorable and shocking scenes, it is the first section, which prominently features Vincent D’Onofrio, that many viewers remember.
During the first half of Full Metal Jacket, drill instructor Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) ruthlessly torments Joker and Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio). The film opens with Sergeant Hartman’s elaborate rant aimed at the recruits and sets up a pattern of abuse that ends tragically for Private Pyle. To play the role of Private Pyle, D’Onofrio underwent a striking physical transformation, gaining 70 pounds, an experience that D’Onofrio said changed his life (via The New York Times). However, the effort proved worth it, as Private Pyle remains one of the most memorable characters from the landmark film.